Unsolicited Advice

Elisa A Escalante/ LMSW/ 5-1-2020

“Of course you are an expert in your own eyes, you have gotten this far and survived. But try to keep in mind, that the person across from you, that you feel is so blind… survived a different set of circumstances. They have lived a separate life.” -EaE

‘The average person gives awful advice’. This is yet another common line I tell clients and friends. Many people express being pulled and jerked with a large amount of unsolicited advice. Many get confused as half of their family and peers tell them to go left, while the other half might just steer them to go right. Why do many people offer unsolicited advice? Why do many people give awful advice and how can we let it roll off our shoulders so that it does not cloud our judgement and raise our blood pressure?

People often love to hear themselves talk about things they think they know. Sure enough if I express that I’m “in a bind” regarding any topic, the listener will identify something in their memory bank that is “just like” what I’m going through. Then they will excitedly have the “perfect” solution as they have “been there”. What does advice giving do for someone? They can look at the topic and ‘relate’ it with a memory from their life, making it about them. They can Increase their confidence by feeling that they have an answer for someone in need. Having an answer for something instills a sense of control and comfort.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect solution for everything all the time. The average person gives pretty awful advice because they neglect that fact. How many times have we been in a situation where there was no clear answer right away? However, everyone and their mother and cousin twice removed kept giving us that same empty and useless advice.

“You have depression? Just be positive!”

“You have issues with weight? Just eat less and exercise more.”

“You don’t get along with your husband / wife? Just get a divorce.”

“You can’t decide between two jobs? Take the one that pays more.”

“You have an addiction? Just stop using drugs”

“You don’t make enough money? Just go to college and then you will get a degree and make more.”

“If I were you, I would do ___________”

The other reason why many people give awful advice? They are expressing what ‘they would do’ in the other persons shoes. However, they will NEVER be, in the other persons shoes. Quite honestly if the solution to our issues were that easy, I would be out of the job. Mental health therapy would be nonexistent and humanity would thrive in a world full of perfectionist robotic humans that always do the ‘obvious’ and ‘sensical’ thing.

We all have a logical side to us that wants to be calculated and careful, but then we have a pleasure seeking side that is in constant conflict. As we make our choices it is quite normal to even start asking for advice… proceed carefully! Many people express that after they ask multiple people for advice they feel even more confused afterwards.

Many people have differing opinions, views, values, perceptions and so on. There is an endless supply of tips you may receive from a wide variety of people from diverse backgrounds. What can help filter out the awful advice from the descent advice?

⁃ Apply your question to a person that is proficient in the topic you have a question about. For example, if you have a question about real estate, it makes more sense to ask someone you know in real estate. I wouldn’t ask my cousin who has never moved out of her mothers house about when and how I should go about homeownership!

⁃ Take note of the people in your life that tend to vomit out the mouth with solutions and answers ALL… THE… TIME. Don’t listen to those ones! It may not be wisdom they possess, rather arrogance.

⁃ If you believe you know the answer to something already, down to your gut and core… refrain from soliciting advice! You would be surprised how often people get talked out of what is good for them because of third party doubts, insecurities, anxiety and/ or envy.

It is still true that there is no one that will look out for us the way we look out for ourselves. It is important to be mindful in our journeys and choose our mentors wisely. Along the way, when there are those that insist on giving unsolicited and awful advice, it is quite easy to smile and nod.

Published by functionallymentall

Social Worker, Writer, USAF Veteran

One thought on “Unsolicited Advice

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